Note: a newer film now entitled "Immaculate Conception" but using the same images, can be viewed on YouTube

Carl Rogers, renowned psychologist and Nobel Prize nominee, said of Touch Love:
"In beautiful photographs and poetic words, this book celebrates the tender and delicate, and the strong
and powerful aspects of sexual lovc. It is an appreciation of the wonder of loving flesh touching loving
flesh. It is done with both sensitivity and passion. Those who have been put off by books on sexual
techniques, described in almost mechanical fashion, will find here the richly sensuous beauty of our
sexual nature. 'Touch Love' makes a significant contribution to our living and loving."

The words chanted here are taken from Len Holdstock's foreword to the book 'Touch Love',
written when he was Reader in Neuropsychology at the University of the Witwatersrand in
Johannesburg, South Africa, before moving to the Free University in Amsterdam.


Images of humankind's most basic need, the need to touch and be touched, to
love and be loved, are presented in this book through photographs and words
of great gentleness, sensitivity and caring.

Over the years many books have been written on love and sex. This work is
not about sex as such. It is about the physical expression of our yearning
for intimacy, to know and be known to another as we truly are. James
HiIlman, one of the world's foremost depth psychologists, stresses that it
is "Reveal thyself" and not "Know thyself" which is of the greatest
importance. For it is only when we experience being known and accepted as we
really are, naked, without frills, literally and figuratively, that we truly
come to grips with the full extent of what it means to be human.

In bringing forth ever so gently how intimate and important touch can be,
this book fulfills an urgent need. It calls for a response to one' s love
partner which is filled with tenderness, respect and understanding of the
other's needs and fears and hesitations. It conveys the importance of
establishing a climate in which each partner can flourish to the full extent
of his or her potential for physical and emotional intimacy.

For what is touch
but a wordless exploration
an expression of feeling by feeling
an unspoken explanation.
How can you be in touch without touching?
How can you have feeling if you don't feel?
'I love you' is easy to say.
How about telling me you love me
by touching me and letting me touch you?

is the way a young woman in a third year psychology class captured the magic
power of touch. At times, I have experienced the need for physical contact
so strongly that,

I woke up at three o'clock in the morning
with a lump in my throat,
crying out to be held, to be hugged,
to be nourished, to be cherished, to be loved,
to be touched,
to be touched by other people
to be touched by their fingers, their hands, their bodies.
To touch, to be touched, to hold, to be held,
To care, to be cared for, to love, to be loved, to hug, to be hugged.
to hold, to be held-
to hold, to be held-
to hold, to be held-
sing it as a song
I will write the score if you compose the music-
to hold, to be held,
a melody, a melody,
a melody of one of life's secret and hidden things
one of life's easiest things
one of life's gentlest things
one of life's strangest things
one of life's most difficult things.
If I touch you and you touch me
a moment or two, a day or two
a week or two, a year or two
a memory, a memory
a memory that will always be
that will always be with me, with you, with you and me.

The magic and sensual power of touch is demonstrated in many forms in this
book - the light touch of a fingertip, the pressure of a hand, the caress of
a foot. How expressive and sensual can the intertwining of two feet not be?
How wondrous the brush of a woman's hair, the hardness of a man's body?
Poets throughout the ages have sung about the power of the human body. e.e.
cummings is one such poet who rejoiced in physical love and could openly

i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling -
firm - smoothness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh . . . . And eyes big love-crumbs,

and possibly i like the thrill

of under me you so quite new

This book certainly fulfills an essential function in highlighting the
forgotten power of our sense of touch. It is difficult to understand how it
has come about that we have strayed so far from attributing to touch the
central place it deserves in our lives. The images presented here portray
that when we touch sensuously we touch with care. When we touch with respect
we touch sexually. We affirm each other in the depth of our being in the way
we touch.

Not only poets, but clinical psychologists and scientists have realised the
importance of expressing our love for each other by touching each other. We
know that children grow when they are touched. When they are deprived of
touch, their growth is stunted. To be touched and held, to be caressed and
rocked, are not luxuries for the infant, but as essential for development as
food and drink.

Certainly, it is not only physical, but also emotional growth that is at
stake, and not only among children, but also adults. What is more, the same
is true in the animal world. Certainly the most dramatic series of
experiments demonstrating the life-giving nature of touch, of physical
contact, has been that conducted at the University of Wisconsin under the
guidance of Harry Harlow.

Depriving infant rhesus monkeys of the contact of their mother and peers
soon after birth causes great emotional and learning disabilities if
continued for an extended duration of time. Several decades of research, not
only with primates, but also with other animal species, have demonstrated
how important it is for all living organisms to have physical contact with
each other.

The healing and therapeutic value of touch has been demonstrated again and
again in both the animal and human world. If, after an extended period of
contact deprivation, monkeys are allowed free contact with their peers for
only a limited time each day, they grow up to become relatively fine monkey

Nurturant touch also forms part of different approaches to psychotherapy. It
features prominently in many encounter groups, whereas some therapies make
extensive use of regression to early infancy. While the individual is held
in the protective enclosure of the therapist's arms, he or she is allowed to
re-experience the trauma associated with parental deprivation in the early

Just how far Western civilization has moved along the road of de-emphasizing
interpersonal tenderness can be depicted in the laws governing touch. In
1978, the then Minister of Health, stated explicitly in a speech to the
South African Psychological Associations that "procedures which involve
physical contact between therapist and patient will not be tolerated".

In contrast is the attitude expressed by A. Montagu, in "Touching: The human
significance of the skin" (1978). He writes:

To a very significant extent a measure of the individual's development as a
human being is the extent to which he or she is freely able to embrace
another and enjoy the embraces of others. (p. 228)

"I hunger for your touch" may have been sung countless numbers of times, yet
it undoubtedly expresses an infinite truth, with magical nurturing

It is important, as the words and visual images in this book convey, to be
in touch inwardly as well. It is imperative that we become fully aware of
the happenings experienced within our skins. These ongoing
psycho-physiological processes, and not the opinions of other people, are
the guidelines by which we are to direct our behaviour. In order to become
fully whole, to own all of ourselves, we need to be aware of and congruent
with the continuous play of sensations and emotions going on inside us. It
is important to listen to the rhythm of our bodily functioning, the beat of
our heart, the sweat of our pulse. In order to express oneself truthfully
and also to have a satisfactory sexual experience one needs to be in tune
with one's body - its signals and responses. If you practise experiencing
all your senses in relation to sex it becomes an exhilarating experience.

It is no small wonder, therefore, that touch is perhaps the first stepping
stone into our search for soul. Touch does so much. It says so much. It
makes us whole. It unites us with our other self, the male in the female,
the female in the male.

In combining so many aspects of touch - the nurturing, the celebratory, the
sexual, the receptive and the assertive - the images in this book transport
us to a plane of being which is so much more than we usually are. It raises
our expectations of intimacy and imbues our interpersonal relationships with
infinite meaning. It is indeed a welcome celebration of a gift we are quite
ignorant of possessing. For a more human future I hope the message of this
book is heard by millions of people.

Len Holdstock, Ph.D.
Reader in Neuropsychology
University of the Witwatersrand

Melody, Guitar & Voice - Sigurd Olivier. Photographs & Filming - Sigurd Olivier.

Immaculate Conception music video
Click here to download free Quicktime so you can watch the movie.